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What’s your preference? Understanding our workplace biases

Besides yourself, would you rather work under the supervision of, or alongside another man, or woman? While the utopian ideal is that, regardless of a person’s outward appearance, it is solely their work performance that we ought to professionally assess their efficiency, credibility and reputation, it cannot be reasonably denied that, even within the most sincere of human hearts, innate biases exist.

How do these inclinations influence our thoughts and interactions with each other? Over the past month, a plethora of diverse opinions was gauged and curated. Here’s what was said:

- “ I prefer to work with men anytime. Most women can’t seem to make up their minds.”

- “Women are much easier to talk to and they offer much more support.”

- “Not me and working for a woman again! They like too much confusion, and, they’re always sticking up for each other!”

- “Men don’t understand or care about the challenges women face on the job.”

- “Women, because women don’t harass you to have lunch with them, or, ask if you married or have children.”

- “Men. I’m a woman, and take it from me, women fuss and fret for every little thing! They could be real miserable when they ready.”

- “Men, because women does let a little bit of power go to their heads.”

- “Women are too ready to cause bacchanal, especially if they don’t like you!”

- “Men all the way! Women does take things too personal, and, hold grudges.”

- Women, because all the women I’ve ever worked alongside were really nice people.”

- “Men, because women can’t work in a team and just get the job over and done with.”

- “I’m not too sure. Men can be too rigid, and women can be too emotional.”

- “Neither of them! Whether man or woman, it’s the same vexing behaviour!”

Though not scientific, the survey still fairly reflects how both sexes feel about themselves, and each other. So, how do we address this issue, whether as employees or employers?

For me, changing such perspectives, is going to be a delicate balancing act between recognising our biases, while still remaining as consummately professional as possible with each other. It’s probably the only pragmatic way to make the workplace a safe, enjoyable and productive space for all.

Nevertheless, the reality of human existence, is that we all exhibit some degree of bias in our daily lives, whether we recognise it or not. Yet, that is not entirely bad, since our preferences reflect our individual personalities. In the same breath however, these perceptions can become problematic, and even counter-productive, when we allow them to be the sole benchmark by which we judge a person, rather than allow that individual to consistently show by their words and actions, plus challenges and triumphs, who they really are at their core.

Having preferences is fine. Judging someone exclusively by those preferences is not.

Keywords: LinkedIn Local Caribbean, men, women, workplace, biases

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